ALABAMA, USA — As COVID-19 cases climb around the nation, Operation Warp Speed is working to ramp up the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and make sure they get administered.
This week, Operation Warp Speed is launching their partnership with pharmacies earlier than initially planned to get vaccines out to more people.
This is good news for the Tennessee Valley as some area hospitals are struggling to vaccinate people quickly due to staffing shortages.
Operation Warp Speed COO, General Gus Perna, said, "When it's opened up by the governors, then people will be able to go onto their websites, be able to sign up for specific times and then be able to go get them. Times will be designated for both first and second shots."
Operation Warp Speed has allocated another 4.1 million doses of the vaccine across the nation this week. Over 21 million total doses have been distributed in the U.S.
They say they expect vaccines to be rolled out more quickly now that the holidays have passed.
On Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health reported 226,250 doses of the COVID vaccine have been allocated in the state.
"Our goal is to maintain the steady drum beat so that states have a cadence of allocation, planning, and then the appropriate distribution to the right places," said General Perna.
Click here for the latest vaccination allocation numbers in Alabama.
Alabama is still in Phase 1a, which focuses on first responders and frontline healthcare workers. According to ADPH, more than 300,000 Alabamians fall into this Phase 1a.
On Wednesday, ADPH reported 42,810 people in the state have been vaccinated for COVID-19. Over 8,000 of those are employees in the Huntsville Hospital System.
Operation Warp Speed is encouraging states to not let any doses of the vaccine go to waste.
Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, says health leaders should get COVID-19 vaccines in the arms of as many people as possible, even if they have to waver from their vaccination plans.
"There is no reason that states need to complete say vaccinating all health care providers before opening up vaccinations to older Americans or other especially vulnerable populations," said Azar.
ADPH will determine when the state moves to Phase 1b, which includes people over 75 and those living in homeless shelters and group homes.
Health leaders in Madison County say people in Phase 1b could be given COVID-19 vaccines by next week.
Although each county is vaccinating at different paces, the general hope is to get all health care workers in the state vaccinated by the end of January.
COVID-19 vaccines will not be available to the general public until Phase 2.
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